Spirit Health breaks new ground with virtual ward pilot
Technology provides home-based support to vulnerable patients in London this winter
A pioneering pilot project between Whittington Health NHS Trust, North Middlesex University Hospital, and digital healthcare technology provider, Spirit Health, will see patients remotely monitored at home by healthcare teams this winter.
Funded by North Central London Integrated Care System (ICS), people living with heart failure and frailty, which typically affects elderly patients who lose strength, resilience, and the ability to do everyday things, can now be safely discharged and supported at home over the next three months.
Under the innovative pilot programme launching this week, a patient’s care team can monitor their health condition, including vital signs like their heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature, through Spirit Health’s remote patient monitoring platform, CliniTouch.
Our technology’s supplementary support to the ICS’s services mean frailty and heart failure patients can get back to living their lives outside of hospital more quickly and safely
Clinicians will be able to pick up early signs of deterioration and act swiftly to provide appropriate care and interventions.
Crucially, the technology allows both frailty and heart failure patients to be connected with their medical team to support their recovery once they leave hospital.
Patients will have access to 4G-enabled tablet devices, along with blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, and thermometers.
They can use these to record their own vital signs for their clinical team to regularly review.
And all equipment provided is Bluetooth-enabled to make it easy for patients.
The collaborative pilot, which has been co-designed with clinicians working at Whittington Health NHS Trust to best meet their specific clinical needs, comes at a pivotal time for the NHS, with significant winter pressures set to hit health services.
The virtual ward provision under the Spirit Health and Whittington Health NHS Trust collaboration adds to existing face-to-face services at the hospital.
As well as promoting patient autonomy, it helps to relieve pressures on the hospital’s emergency department and ensure people can leave hospital to continue receiving the care they need both safely and from their own home.
Having the opportunity to be cared for safely at home by their healthcare team, instead of being in hospital unnecessarily, is a game changer
Research published by Spirit Health shows that when using remote patient monitoring, patients managing long-term conditions can reduce their average length of a hospital stay by 40% and reduce their hospital readmission rate by 50%.
The technology has also helped to save the NHS much-needed money, with estimated savings per patient of more than £1,000.
Dr Noel O’Kelly, medical director of Spirit Health, said: “Having the opportunity to be cared for safely at home by their healthcare team, instead of being in hospital unnecessarily, is a game changer.
“Our technology’s supplementary support to the ICS’s services mean frailty and heart failure patients can get back to living their lives outside of hospital more quickly and safely.”
Wendy Paul-Garricks, deputy service manager for Whittington Health NHS Trust, added: “It’s about empowering the patient to look after their health.
“Every patient wants to be in the comfort of their own place. Being at home not only reduces the risk of hospital acquired infection, but patients are less anxious at home, and can get a better night’s sleep as wards can sometimes be noisy.
“They can also eat their own food, and they can be around their family; all while we are monitoring them from the hospital.”